Why Customer Reviews Matter

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Why Customer Reviews Matter

By Josh Fulfer, KVF Marketing

What is your first job as a home inspector? Without customers nothing else in your business matters. Inspecting homes only comes after you have customers. So your first job is to get new customers.

Now imagine for a moment that you need to hire a home inspector. So, like most people, you go to Google and search for home inspectors in your area.

Which of these businesses would you be most likely to click on
first?

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If you said Inspections Plus, Inc, with 37 reviews, congratulations. You’re like most people.

In this article we discuss why an online review strategy is one of the easiest things you can do to improve your online marketing. And I’ll show you four simple things you can do to get more customer reviews.

How Online Reviews Help You Book More Inspections Online reviews help you book more inspections in two ways:

1. More website visitors. Nobody goes to Yelp or Google looking for a nice restaurant for their anniversary, and says “Oh look honey, 2.3 stars. Let’s go there.”

No, of course not. This is the U.S.A. We want the best. We want the top-rated. We want the guy with the most customer reviews on Google.

So despite the fact that Inspections Plus, Inc. was not listed first in the search results, they still receive the most visitors to their website. Why? Because people place a lot of importance on reviews and social proof. Thus the guy with the most / best online reviews is likely to get more people to his website, and hopefully book more inspections.

2. More online visibility. There’s another huge benefit to online reviews, and that is that Google factors in your online reviews when ranking websites in their search results. All else being equal, the businesses with more reviews tend to be more prominently displayed in the search results, leading to more inspections
booked.

So between improved consumer confidence, and better Google rankings, it’s not surprising that the inspectors with the best review profiles are the ones booking the most inspections. Reviews are a win-win.

Helpful vs Hurtful Online Reputations
According to studies, about nine out of 10 of people have used online reviews to decide which businesses to hire.

As an average consumer, if you’re searching Google for a home inspector, and you see an inspector with lots of positive reviews, you’re probably going to call him because other people have seemingly had good experiences with them.

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Take Big Moose Home Inspections for example. They’re a client of ours. When we started working together they had no reviews. But within a few short months they were up over 70 reviews on Google, and now they’re over 200.

And guess what, they dominate their market. They’re all over the first page of Google for home inspector searches. And they have ten times the reviews of any competitors. Their review portfolio is now a valuable asset to their business, rather than a liability. And it’s an asset they can leverage for years to come.

On the other hand, businesses that have negative reviews, or don’t have any reviews, are usually passed over. Fair or unfair, that’s the reality.

The example below is an extreme case, but you can see how bad reviews can hurt a business. With just a 1-star rating, after 51 reviews, would you hire this guy? I know I wouldn’t. (If you’re wondering, Kachinsky is an attorney featured in the Netflix docu-series “Making a Murderer.” Needless to say, he upset some people.)

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How Do You Get Reviews?
Getting positive reviews written by customers is great in theory. The problem is that people usually only review home inspectors when they are upset about something. But if you have the right tools in place, and you have a little persistence, you can get happy customers to write you testimonials. Of course in order to get positive reviews, you do need to do good work and be nice to work with. But from my experience, as long as you do those things, it’s not difficult to get customers to write reviews.

Besides that, you must have a Google Business page for these strategies to work. It’s free to setup, and only takes a few minutes of filling out your general business details. If you haven’t signed up yet, go to Google.com/business to get started.

If you’re not sure if you have a business listing setup, you can start filling out the information and Google will prompt you if they find a page that matches. You can claim your page if you haven’t yet done so.

Once your page is established you’ll need your business page ID & URL so you can send people directly to your review page. Don’t worry though. It’s easy to find both. Here are the instructions from Google. Check them out when you’re ready here

So, with that, let’s get into the tools.

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Four Tools for Getting Reviews

1. Review Email Template

Cost: Free
The most effective tool I’ve found for getting customer reviews is email.

Here’s an email template similar to the one that Big Moose has success with. It’s designed to get reviews to your Google Business page. It’s short, sweet and to the point.

For best results, we have found that sending this email a week or two after the inspection report is emailed leads to a higher response rate. Also, by using a template, you can quickly copy and paste a new email to customers, and then just update their name and the review link. This saves a lot of time and headaches.

Feel free to copy this template, or update it as you see fit.

Subject: Favor to Ask

Hi [First Name],

I have a favor to ask. Now that your inspection is complete, would you be willing to take 2–3 minutes to provide us with a Google review/testimony on our performance? This will allow others searching for a home inspector to better understand the value we provide our clients. If so, here is a link to our Google page where you can leave your review. We’d greatly appreciate it!

Also, just a note… You do need a Gmail account to leave a review.

Thank you again for your business!

[Your Name]

2. Customer Review Cards Cost:
Less than $50 per year

We recently started using business-card style cards to request reviews. Each card has a link to our client’s Google Business review page, making it easy for people to leave a review. The cards can be given to both customers and Realtors.

Here’s an example of a card for Towne & Country Building Inspection. One side is branded. The other says “Happy with your inspection? Follow the link below and let us know how we did…”

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We don’t yet have much data on the use of the cards but we believe a tangible card is a nice addition to the email requests that we send. Plus the cards are cheap. 500 cards only were about $30 on Vistaprint.

3. Website Link
Cost: Free
Another free option is to add a link to your Google Business page on your website. For example, on your Home page or your Testimonials page, include an image that tells people to review you, like the one seen here. Then link the image to your Google review page.

4. Inspection Report
Link Cost: Free

That same image can also be added to your inspection report. If you use digital reports, make sure to link to your Google review page. And if you still use printed reports, make sure to add the review URL to the report.

Each of the four review methods can be successful when used consistently. But everyone is different, so pick a review method that fits you. I’ve found that commitment to the process is more important than the actual tactics used. So pick a method that you are most likely to follow through on, and go with that. Email is my preferred method but you may prefer using business cards, or another option when requesting reviews.

Do’s & Don’ts of Online Reviews
Do:

• Use multiple review methods
• Ask every customer
• Ask more than once
• Thank people for reviews
• Respond to all reviews in kind
• Use templates
• Be diligent
• Write reviews for others

Don’t:
• Be rude, even if you disagree
• Pay for reviews – Google frowns on it.
• Write fake reviews – Google frowns on it.
• Trade for reviews – Google frowns on it.
• Give up

Should I only focus on Google?
With nearly 80% of the search engine traffic, Google is where people look first for inspectors. So a strong review portfolio is a must here. However, if you’re doing well on Google, and you have many more reviews than your competitors, then it’s a good idea to diversify your review profile. Websites like Yelp, Bing, Angie’s List, and Thumbtack are all great websites for reviews since they’re credible sites and they get lots of traffic.

What about Reviews on Your Own Website?
There’s nothing wrong with customers emailing you a review for use on your website. But if you can get people to publish their review on a major website, like Google or Yelp, that review will be seen by many more people and you’ll get more value from it. So whenever possible, you want your customers to write reviews on third party websites, starting with Google.

Takeaway
Both consumers and Google place lots of importance on customer reviews. So the inspectors with the best online reputations, and the most social proof backing them, are the ones who attract the most business online.

Luckily for you, the odds are that most of your competitors aren’t yet asking for reviews. Most guys simply don’t know they should be. And that’s great for you. It’s an opportunity for you to stand out from your competition and create a true competitive advantage.

By being proactive about reviews, you can position yourself as the go-to inspector in your market, and make more money. So if you are looking for an easy and effective way to help you book more inspections, reviews are where it’s at.

Action item: If you have a minute today, search your business name on Google. Is your review profile an asset or liability to your business?

Have a question about reviews, or want some help with your online marketing? Give me a call.

How Do You Get Reviews?
Josh Fulfer is a member of the Wisconsin Association of Home Inspectors. His firm specializes in generating qualified leads for home inspectors from the Internet, including web design and search engine marketing. You can find him at KVFmarketing.com.

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